By Dennis Minich
Sunday is Mother’s Day and this will be the 21st Mother’s Day since my mom died. While I still find myself gripped by grief at times, what I have really learned to enjoy is the sweet memories I have from my youth. One of those memories is the annual tradition of buying my mom her Mothers’ Day corsage.
Shopping for the gift was an annual event. I did not start the tradition, it began maybe before I was born, by my oldest brother, Russ. Through the years the gift-giving was passed from him to my sister, then to my second brother and finally to me. The hardest part of any gifting occasion is what to get. With that already decided, it came down to fine tuning, namely what kind of corsage and whether to pick it up or have it delivered. Some years it was roses, others it was carnations. If I was late getting the order in, chances were, it would be a lily.
Oddly, there never seemed to be a year I picked the wrong thing. Mom always had a dress to show it off and praised my insight for picking out the perfect flowers.
I think whenever I hear the words Mother’s Day, the smells in the flower shop always fill my memories. Even more special was Sunday morning when Mom would be ready for church with that fresh corsage as the focal point of her accessories. The flower was never as beautiful as her smile and she beamed on her special day.
The corsage was the gift from a child, no matter how old I got. It was the one thing I think she may be looking forward to more than most other holidays. Even though she knew what was coming, it was still my job to shop in secret and pick it up without her knowing. It was such melodrama, but the theatrics, I think, were part of the significance.
A funny thing happens to mothers. They later in life turn into grandmothers and the thing is at that point, all of the rules change. When I was a son Mom’s reactions to disobedience were swift and emphatic. I think there were far more times I had to go to the bush in the front yard and cut out my own switch than times I had to pick out flowers. Yet, when the transformation to Grandma occurred, the same episode which would earn me a swat or two became funny or no big deal when it came to her grandson.
For the later years in her life, Mom lived with us and no matter what kind of mischief Derek might get into, he had an attorney for the defense on hand. I don’t think Derek ever did anything wrong in his grandma’s eyes and looking back on it, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
She and I would talk about my growing up. When it would come to the tales of spankings and other forms of attitude adjustments, she would simply say, “I guess I was the meanest mother on earth.” Looking back, nothing could be further from the truth. Even though there were tough times, Mom always had dinner on the table and clean clothes for us all to wear. She could make a mean pie and her homemade rolls were legendary.
This year, Mother’s Day falls on the same date as Harry S Truman’s birthday. My mom had an amazing memory and could come up with some of the most amazing facts. I remember her in conversation mentioning that something happened sometime in the past and she remembered it because it happened on Truman’s birthday. I’m lucky if I remember my birthday, but Mom could roll out dates, times and events without even thinking.
A few months after Derek was born, my mom went to the hospital for a hip replacement. There were complications and she ended up in intensive care for more than three months. She was unconscious for several weeks. One day, out of the blue, I got a call that she had awakened. I went to see her and she was still kind of groggy but certainly awake. I asked her a critical question, “Where was my car registration?”
Even though I had moved out, she was still the caretaker of important documents so I had no idea where to look. After weeks of unconsciousness and months in the hospital she simply said, “In the top drawer of the chest of drawers, behind my Bible under the insurance papers.” I went straight to the house and opened the top drawer of the chest of drawers, looked behind her Bible under the insurance papers and there was my car registration. That simple feat has boggled my mind for years.
My mom was pretty amazing. Happy Mother’s Day.